Needle exchange public hearing

March 14, 2008 at 5:45 am 1 comment

Tonight at City Hall, Council listened to people addressing them on the topic of the needle exchange move to Pandora Street.

The City actually has little control over the proposal from a zoning perspective since the specific zoning there allows for various types of medical services. It certainly fits the zoning bylaws closer than the View/Vancouver bottle depot does and there’s no political will to make the depot conform to the letter of the bylaw. Zoning bylaws are interpreted broadly anyway, so unfortunately for the parents, their request that the City to find a zoning loophole will be futile. Planning will investigate anyway and report back but the result will be the same–a needle exchange can be considered a health service.

I spoke briefly to Council on my own behalf on the needle exchange issue knowing full well that it’s pretty much a done deal and the City has limited influence on VIHA’s decision to use St. John House for a permitted use, so I decided to focus on the issues in which the City could have influence.

First off, I said that I strongly supported the recommendations of the Mayor’s Task Force on Homelessness and Addictions. I noted that there would be a three to four month gap before a Pandora needle exchange was up and running–in that time we would rely on existing and mobile needle exchange facilities. At the end of that time we might find we can live without a permanent needle exchange. I said that the new police officers coming on line will help matters but that if police resources cannot control public disorder caused by the needle exchange, the City must take steps to end the distribution of needles there. Finally, I called for strong tax incentives to encourage developers and businesspeople to turn the vacant and derelict properties in the 900 block Pandora into new residential, commercial and cultural uses in order to jump start the economic activity that will revitalize this neighbourhood that is currently teetering on the edge.

Dean Fortin talks to the CBC on the needle exchange (Real Audio):

Listen to the interview (runs 6:19)

Entry filed under: Harris Green, needle exhange, social issues.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. robertrandall  |  March 17, 2008 at 6:11 am

    I should note that the parents want the City of Victoria to create a bylaw that sets minimum distances between a needle exchange and an elementary school.

    It seems common sense but I can see it opening up a can of worms. Should there be different distances for different types of schools? What about businesses? Businesses that cater to kids (like arcades)? Is there research that shows the people that loiter around a needle exchange are more harmful than, say, clients of a halfway house, Alcoholics Anonymous meeting space or mental health facility?


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